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Catching Up in October

I experienced an unexpected interruption in internet and cable service this weekend.  It may have been the ominous work-site superstructure ConEd has built outside my window or a Halloween trick gone horribly wrong, but the minutes turned into hours and a service call confirmed that it was not a drill – it was an outage.  Relieved to have at least a few information portals closed, I took it as an unplanned vacation, congratulating myself on my ability disconnect (though I did fall asleep with my iPhone under my pillow).  The next morning I was ready to plug back in to no avail.  This was serious.  Vacation over, I wanted my modem back.  A few hours later service was restored and the pretty pictures, status updates, and links to links came flooding back in.  Eerily quiet a few minutes before, it was like someone had knocked over a beehive.  I have to admit I missed the buzzing. Read more

Gnocchi à l’Alsacienne

I was looking for my monthly (well I try) ñoquis del 29 recipe and found Thomas Keller’s gnocchi à l’Alsacienne from Bouchon.  I’m always drawn to Keller recipes when I’m getting ready for a long run.  For last winter’s NYC half marathon it was ad hoc at home’s farro and black rice with roasted autumn squash and this time it was his gnocchi with butternut squash and mushrooms before next week’s full marathon, though both involve a lot of rotating pans and squash cubing just when I’m supposed to be resting up and tapering down. Read more

Casquinha de Siri

Looking over Caribbean or Central American recipes, it’s no longer necessary to seek out Latin American markets or bodegas in search of specialty items.  Increasingly popular, all grocery stores are now Latin American bodegas (or at least have a booming selection of Goya products).  I could also order absolutely anything online but it doesn’t compare to finding it in a newly discovered shop or even better, bringing back a longed for ingredient from a trip.  Portuguese and Brazilian recipes pose there own challenges.  Too often lumped in with the rest of South America, it’s a combination of indigenous, Portuguese, and African influences whose unique ingredients can put it just out of everyday reach.  I can find guajillo chiles or aji amarillo within few blocks of my house but I have yet to come across dendê oil or malagueta peppers by chance, making it that much more exciting to find farina de mandioca on the lower east side. Read more

Back InStyle

While I love having my own site, it makes for a quiet office Christmas party.  That’s only one of the reasons I was so excited to be included in InStyle’s list 223 Sites You’ll Love in their current November issue.  It was so thrilling to find myself in the company of blogs I follow like Cannelle et Vanille while discovering new ones like Sprouted Kitchen.  The list also highlights great resources like ChefShop, The Party Dress, MeriMeri, and ReForm School Rules (the name alone warrants a visit).  With so many good shopping and entertaining options it may be my best virtual holiday yet. Read more

Fairy Tale Soup

It was supposed to be a fairy tale.  I found a recipe for pumpkin and crab soup that I couldn’t wait to try, a Cinderella pumpkin I couldn’t wait to photograph, and pound of fresh lump crab meat I couldn’t help but splurge on.  Using a recipe that seemed pretty straight forward if a little vague, I roasted the pumpkin and scooped out a few cups – careful to leave the shell in tact so it could it be used as a tureen – then pureed it with scallions and coriander.  Combining the puree with broth, I added way too much curry (the wooden spoon I used still looks gold plated).  I made some adjustments but it only got the soup madder.  I was moments away from throwing good crab meat into bad recipe when I decided to give up on it altogether. Read more

Croquetas with Blue Cheese and Jamón Serrano

When chef Michelle Bernstein described Miami’s lunch counter croquetas as “leaden”, I hated to admit that she was right.  Made of pureed ham, chicken, or beef, they’re often left to sit out in glass cases for hours.  Even if you’re lucky enough to come across a freshly fried batch, it’s more ham spread than creamy béchamel.  On a recent trip home, I had one from an otherwise good bakery filled with a flourescent paste that could not have possibly been found in nature.  Sold in large trays for family parties, the tiny versions pack an even weightier punch.  Still, I haven’t given up on them yet.  Using any excuse to visit the crowded coffee stands and bakeries that dot Miami, they’re usually the first thing I ask for when I land and the last thing I pick up on my way to the departure gate.  Read more

Tequila-Cured Salmon Gravlax

A friend from Seattle once described his family’s Christmas tree ritual.  Every December, they’d go to the woods, pick a tree, argue a little, cut it down, then bring it home where they’d have hot chocolate together.  A lovely story, but so wholesome, it seemed exotic.  Told to a bunch of urbanites who believed Christmas trees sprouted up spontaneously from the sidewalks in front of grocery stores once a year, we wanted to know if there was a designated “tree section” of the forest.  That’s the way I felt about making my own gravlax which I’d only bought pre-packaged and ready to serve (random connection I know but they’re both related to the Pacific Northwest).  I love sushi, ceviche and all things smoked and cured, but when it comes to fish, I relied on chefs and Nova Scotians to tell me when it’s raw and when it’s lunch.  This week I found a recipe for tequila-cured salmon topped with mango and lime relish that changed my mind. Read more

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